Wednesday Words: The Mental Effects of Cycling

“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”
Sherlock Holmes author, Arthur Conan Doyle, Scientific American, 1896

“[Commuting by bicycle is] an absolutely essential part of my day. It’s mind-clearing, invigorating. I get to go out and pedal through the countryside in the early morning hours, and see life come back and rejuvenate every day as the sun is coming out.”
James L. Jones, former US Supreme Allied Commander Europe, now Barack Obama’s national security advisor

“I’m a cyclist not simply in the sense that I ride a bike, but in the sense that some people are socialists or Christian fundamentalists or ethical realists – that is, cycling is my ideology, a system of thought based on purity and economy of motion, kindness to the environment and drop handlebars, and I want to convert others.”
Journalist Robert Hanks, The Independent, 15th August 2005

“To possess a bicycle is to be able first to look at it, then to touch it. But touching is revealing as insufficient; what is necessary is to be able to get on the bicycle and take a ride. But this gratuitous ride is likewise insufficient; it would be necessary to use the bicycle to go on some errands…Finally, as one could foresee, handing over a bank note is enough to make a bicycle belong to me, but my entire life is needed to realize this possession.”
“Being and nothingness: an essay on phenomenological ontology”? By Jean-Paul Sartre

“Few articles ever used by man have created so great a revolution in social conditions as the bicycle.”
US Census Report, 1900

A Zen teacher saw five of his students returning from the market, riding their bicycles. When they arrived at the monastery and had dismounted, the teacher asked the students, “Why are you riding your bicycles?”

The first student replied, “The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!” The teacher praised the first student. “You are a smart boy! When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over like I do.”

The second student replied, “I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path!” The teacher commended the second student, “Your eyes are open, and you see the world.”

The third student replied, “When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant nam myoho renge kyo.” The teacher gave his praise to the third student, “Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel.”

The fourth student replied, “Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all sentient beings.” The teacher was pleased and said to the fourth student, “You are riding on the golden path of non-harming.”

The fifth student replied, “I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle.” The teacher sat at the feet of the fifth student and said, “I am your student.”
Zen proverb

“I think one of the things that really separates us from the high primates is that we’re tool builders. I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. And, humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing, about a third of the way down the list. It was not too proud a showing for the crown of creation. So, that didn’t look so good. But, then somebody at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle. And, a man on a bicycle, a human on a bicycle, blew the condor away, completely off the top of the charts.

“And that’s what a computer is to me. What a computer is to me is it’s the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with, and it’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.”

Steve Jobs

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2 Comments to “Wednesday Words: The Mental Effects of Cycling”

  1. I loved the Zen proverb, so much that I created blog post with my own personal pics. Gave you a blog credit and link…to be released during wk. of Jan. 8th.

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